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Lakers to cut DeMarcus Cousins to make room for Markieff Morris

In a shocking move, the Lakers are cutting ties with DeMarcus Cousins.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are waiving DeMarcus Cousins, according to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Cousins is being waived to make room for Markieff Morris, who is expected to sign with the Lakers in the likely event that he clears waivers this weekend, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Cousins did not appear in a single game for the Lakers because he tore his ACL in August. He had hoped to return for the playoffs, but now that is not going to happen.

The Lakers were granted a disabled player exception worth $1.75 million in September as a result of Cousins’ injury being deemed likely to be season-ending by NBA medical personnel. While Cousins won’t be on the roster anymore, the Lakers will still be able to use that $1.75 million DPE to sign a free agent because once the DPE is granted, the only way it can be rescinded is if the injured player is traded, returns to play, or when it expires on March 10 of that season, according to Larry Coon’s invaluable CBA FAQ.

Over the past week, the Lakers have been linked to free agents Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith.

Once Cousins is waived, a team will have an opportunity to claim him off of waivers. If Cousins clears waivers, the Lakers can request permission from the NBA to allow Cousins to continue his rehab using their facilities. Doing so would (at least in theory) give them the inside track on re-signing Cousins this summer.

Had the Lakers kept Cousins around for the remainder of the season, like many had expected them to, they would have had his bird rights this summer, allowing them to go over the cap to sign him. However, given how close he is to the players on the roster — most notably Anthony Davis — and the small market for big men coming off of three serious injuries in the same leg, there would seem to at least a decent chance he ends up back in Los Angeles next season anyway.

Despite the report that he was cut, Cousins still spent time in the Lakers’ locker room before their game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, and still worked out prior to the game as normal.

With Morris eventually taking the place of Cousins, the Lakers’ roster stands at the league-maximum 17, with 15 guaranteed contracts and a pair of two-way contracts.

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